Senate Republicans are set to unveil their healthcare plan and try to find the votes to pass it. The 52-member caucus will receive a comprehensive presentation on the GOP proposal at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The multilayer bill, which is expected to repeal Obamacare and set up a new health system that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy and millions of Americans, have come into focus in recent days.
The majority of GOP senators have a working knowledge of what the bill would do. However, Republicans have to begin the work to pass the thing. Since Democrats are unified in their opposition, Republicans are using a fast-track process that can evade filibusters, The Hill reads.
Thursday’s meeting will be the “start of the process” of getting the 50 requisite votes, said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.
“We’ve been talking about these concepts for a long time. This is an attempt to bring us to … how we resolve the differences and achieve consensus. I think it’s going to be very detailed,” Cornyn said.
It is uncertain whether Cornyn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have the votes until sometime next week. Namely, a Congressional Budget Office analysis illustrates how many fewer Americans are likely to be insured by the bill and responds to the crucial political question of whether premiums would be reduced.
Republicans are hoping for broader buy-in from the healthcare industry Thursday than the House bill received. Some senators said they expected the bulk of the caucus will endorse the bill immediately, with leadership allies expected to give the legislation a quick jolt of momentum.
“We’ll have some people who will say: ‘I’ll vote for it immediately,’ because they realize that failing to do anything will be very disastrous for the people that are hurt by the meltdown of Obamacare,” Cornyn said.
“Others are going to have specific concerns that we’re going to have to talk our way though,” Cornyn added.
Moreover, conservatives, moderates and senators from Medicaid expansion states all remained on the fence going into the meeting. The lack of specificity gave them cover to keep their feelings about the bill private.
“Today I don’t know anything more than I knew yesterday. And so [Thursday] I’m going to know so much more and I’m going to have better responses to all of your questions,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Still, the cajoling had already begun in earnest after Wednesday’s lunch, with Senator Ted Cruz spotted working Senator Mike Lee during an afternoon vote. And President Donald Trump dialed up Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday to take his temperature.
The bill is expected to repeal Obamacare’s mandates and Medicaid expansion and impose significant cuts to the long-term Medicaid program. Republicans also want to reshape the Obamacare insurance subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance, but it is still unclear whether additional language to prohibit those plans from covering abortion will be allowed under Senate rules.